Very Complicated Logic

I don’t know how many times this has to be said before it is understood by the people that matter, but it is not hard to understand:

When you bomb people and kill their family, friends, and neighbors, burn down their homes and burn down their businesses and kill their livestock, spewing unexploded ordnance and munitions in fields where they work and their children play, it pisses them off. Many of them even get pissed off enough to fight back against the people they think are responsible for the bombing. They probably even form lifelong grudges when they find their mother and children in thousands of bloody pieces in their former homes.

Again, this is not rocket surgery. If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda before, after you bomb the shit out of them, they will be. As far as I am concerned, the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office, yet, oddly enough, few seem to give a shit. Mention “the professional left” at a fundraiser, and there is a six week freak-out. Bomb and kill a shitload of innocents, creating tons more terrorists and doing nothing to advance our War aims (whatever the fuck they are anymore), and a few people will sheepishly mumble about you not understanding the gravity of the situation. Pakistan has nukes, doncha know!

Well, if not having nukes means your population will be subjected to bombing missions for decades, who the hell wouldn’t want nukes?

120 replies
  1. 1
    Steve says:

    Spewing ordinance is a good way to create a lawless society.

  2. 2
    Paul M says:

    “rocket surgery” : )

    It’s always easy to tell when you’re worked up, John.

  3. 3
    Martin says:

    A family friend has relayed that he believes that we have intel on OBL and are now chasing him across Pakistan. The missile strikes target Al-Qaeda every time they pop their head up, and thats helping narrow down OBLs whereabouts.

    That’s his take. He was a field agent for a TLA, so I trust his analysis and sources more than anyone in the media right now.

    It’s still a shitty game, but I’m hoping this is a dash to take out OBL and then we bug the fuck out.

  4. 4
    cleek says:

    show me evidence that complaining about bombings works, and i’ll complain.

    as it stands now, killing people is just one of those things “our” government does in our name over which i have absolutely no control.

    i can’t vote to stop a war. i can’t vote for people who will stop a war. i can’t yell loud enough to be heard. i can’t write enough letters to be acknowledged.

    there is apparently nothing i can do to stop a war.

    fuck, we can’t even get the country to stop spending $20,000,000 / day to fund “our” war machine.

    i’ve given up. war, and its funding, is out of our hands.

  5. 5
    Lupin says:

    Also Americans don’t understand history. In the southern region of France where I now live some people still resent the fact the crusaders from Northern France came & burned a lot of the locals at the stake in the 12th century. That’s yesterday by Middle Eastern standards.

    Americans will still die in the year 2500 because of what we’re doing today.

  6. 6
    Daddy-O says:

    @Paul M: That phrase truly is a classic. I’m sincerely hoping I am witness to the natal coining of a great new blogosphere term…rocket surgery.

    I am NOT being sarcastic…I love it! And I’m stealing it, right now.

  7. 7
    Ed Marshall says:

    @Martin:

    I’ve heard the same thing from people who probably would know, but I heard that starting about October 2008….

  8. 8
    Daddy-O says:

    John Cole, I’ve been saying the same thing since 9-12-01, when the Northern Alliance began the bombardment of Kabul…and Jon Lee Anderson reported from the battlefields of Afghanistan in October 2001…and since the Towers fell.

    No military response would ever be appropriate, effective, fiscally sound or sustainable. And we Dirty Fucking Hippies have long ago been proven fucking right.

  9. 9
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    @Martin: As John points out, we are potentially creating a new OBL every time we drop ordinance to try to kill the real one. The only way to win is not to play.

  10. 10
    Cat Lady says:

    @Martin:

    Weird, but that’s been a very strong gut feeling I’ve had for a while now, with evidence based on absolutely nothing. But then again, I am an Obot and so my gut is just suffering from epistemic closure.

  11. 11
    homerhk says:

    The real truth is that this vicious circle did not start under Obama’s presidency, or Bush’s, or Clinton’s or Bush I or Reagan’s. In 1953, Mossadegh, the democratically elected leader of Iran was assassinated pursuant to a plot devised by the CIA in league with the British Secret Service – Dwight Eisenhower was President and Churchill was Prime Minister of the UK. Mossadegh’s assassination paved the way for the Shah of Iran, which paved the way for the Iranian revolution, which paved the way for Saddam Hussein as strongman in Iraq – to fight a war with Iran etcetera etcetera.

    It would be helpful if we started realising that this vicious circle continues but that there are people – influential people – who are trying their hardest to get out of it. The 2 state solution is one way; the outreach to the Muslim world is another. Obama will be the one to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and that will help enormously. As to the person who said that people in the Middle East hold grudges that’s true to some extent but really it’s only majorly prevalent in those areas where disputes are still ongoing. In India, for example, it is true that Kashmiri muslims don’t like the Indian government but that is not necessarily true of the vast amount of muslims that live in the rest of India who by and large live side by side with their Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and other brothers and sisters.

  12. 12
    Silver says:

    And those people who do fight back are all goddamn Muslim terraists who are 5 seconds away from imposing Sharia law in the US, aided and abetted by the foreign half-breed crypto-Mooslim president we’ve got.

    So we should really just kill more of them.

  13. 13
    PeakVT says:

    Killing loads of innocent people to get a guy who killed loads of innocent people doesn’t make a lot of sense. Costs a pretty penny, too.

  14. 14
    Joshua says:

    After a while, I started to note the absurdity of the “insurgents”, the “terrorists”, being the ones fighting on their own soil against a foreign army of invaders. Imagine if the Taliban had invaded South Carolina or some other part of real Murica. Who would be labeled who?

    One of this country’s core beliefs is that we have the right to shit on whoever we want and the only acceptable response is to open your mouth and ask for seconds. Suck. on. this.

  15. 15
    evinfuilt says:

    @Silver:
    I thought Obama bombed the Muslims over there to prove to people who will never ever vote for him, that he’s not a Muslim.

  16. 16
    gex says:

    @Comrade Javamanphil: Which goes to show this is about optics and politics. I have to admit, after Bush, I would have loved for the Dem president to be able to say, “See? We got OBL, Bush and Cheney couldn’t in 9 years.” But means matter.

  17. 17
    jrg says:

    If you believe that it pisses people off when you kill their family, it means you’re a member of the “blame America first” crowd, and therefore you’re an unserious hippie.

    You better go take some bong hits and leave the foreign policy to experts like Frank Gaffney, Doug Feith, and the pundits on Fox news.

  18. 18
    fasteddie9318 says:

    There’s a clear difference between the two parties here: while the Republicans would like to start bombing a whole lot more people in countries we’re not bombing right now, the Democrats only want to keep bombing the same people we’ve been bombing for the last decade or so

    Sort of. For now.

    Just another reminder that, while voting Democratic is the only sane choice, it’s far from optimal.

  19. 19
    gex says:

    @homerhk: Better yet, the reason for all of that was because Iran had wanted 50% of the profits from their oil fields, but BP would have none of it. So Iran tried to nationalize their oil.

    Americans may convince themselves that oil isn’t part of the calculation for us, but the rest of the world knows.

  20. 20
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    We’re fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here. Which never made sense to me. Wouldn’t it be preferable to fight them over here? They’d have to foot the bill for transportation and our mighty Montana militias would chew them up between reruns of Mama’s Family. Wolverines!

  21. 21
    Brachiator says:

    As far as I am concerned, the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office, yet, oddly enough, few seem to give a shit.

    I don’t think the type of warfare matters a damn. If you had troops on the ground, going house to house, there would still be problems (and collateral damage). And, as usual, Greenwald the Good, and the Wapo, is totally full of shit when he spouts crap about the US supporting a coup to get a more US-friendly government in place:

    Some suggested that a new, constitutionally-approved government that was more competent and popular, and had strong military backing, might be better positioned to support U.S. policies.

    Three points. Pakistan has been ruled more often by military than civilian governments during its history. Most recently, the military has resisted efforts by civilian authority to assert more democratic control. And Pakistan has been adept at manipulating the US as it pursues its own national interests.

    Unfortunately, the US and the Beltway crowd are irredeemably stupid on this area, and with full hubris, imagine that they can call the tune in Pakistan. And, if anything, there is a hint that the US military is trying to go around the Obama administration in supporting the Pakistan military. From a July 28 Economist article (Stand By Your Man):

    “On July 22nd General Ashfaq Kayani became the first of Pakistan’s army chiefs ever to have his tenure extended by a civilian government. News of his re-appointment made barely a ripple in America, even since Monday’s dump of ISI-incriminating material. And yet General Kayani has been personally overseeing Pakistan’s attempt to stitch up a political deal between the government in Kabul and Afghanistan’s Taliban. Moreover he was the chief of the ISI from 2004 to 2007, the very period in which the Taliban staged its spectacular comeback. America’s foreign policy establishment would not have been caught off guard, though it has chosen not to broadcast its support for the general….”

    “It was expected that General Kayani might last a little longer, but his appointment for another full term came as a shock. Never before had one of Pakistan’s intermittent democratically elected governments prolonged the service of an army chief—not even by a day. …”

    “At any rate, the decision to grant General Kayani another three years does not seem to have been the government’s choice in the first place. Instead, the army itself pushed it, with help from America’s military command, which is enamoured by a particular Pakistani general, not for the first time. More than anything else, this episode seems to expose the fact that whoever is in government, ultimate power continues to sit with the army and its allies. ”

    The Obama Administration previously had tried to back the civilian authority in Pakistan. If this policy is being undermined by the American military, this country’s foreign policy in the region is being fatally compromised.

  22. 22
    Cris says:

    @Paul M: @Daddy-O: Guys, that phrase is a deliberate malapropism that has been around for years. I share your love for it, but it wasn’t coined just now in this post.

  23. 23
    Martin says:

    @Ed Marshall: Yeah, he says it’s been going on for a while. He believes it wasn’t working in the past because the strikes were too infrequent – they’d hit/miss, and everyone had time to pack up and move. The new strategy is to keep drones overhead nearly 24/7, hit as soon as they get a bite, and not give them time to move far.

    @Comrade Javamanphil: Uh, no. OBL got all uppity because we had bases in Saudi Arabia. We didn’t play, and we still got stuck with him. I think the likelihood that Al Qaeda will find another multi-millionaire leader with family ties all across the middle east is pretty remote. He’s a fairly unique animal. And they’re going to surface now and then no matter what we do. I think we can safely assume that the ability of OBL to organize an attack against the US is higher than the ability of however many dirt farmers turned insurgents we create in Afghanistan is.

    Remember, these operations are almost all in Waziristan, which Pakistan doesn’t control. It’s formally in their borders, but they’ve given up trying to administer it – it’s essentially an independent state. We’re not taking these actions without Pakistan’s involvement.

  24. 24
    Seebach says:

    @Martin: While trying to kill OBL will create new OBL, I think that’s really too complex for most Americans.

    If Obama quits Afghanistan, the Republicans will try and use it as evidence that Dems are weak on national security. I can see Obama kind of feeling like LBJ, who doesn’t want to be a Democrat that loses a war.

    Obama getting bin Laden’s head when Bush didn’t would be a useful bauble and STFU button when debating Republicans.

    I can see why he’d want it, damn the long term consequences. Because even though we’re breeding new terrorists, having Sarah Palin in the white house is still scarier.

    It’s a cynical, amoral game that I want no part in, but I can definitely see a logic to it.

  25. 25
    Val says:

    Speaking of the “professional left,” they’re the only ones who talk about this at all. Rachel Maddow, in particular, has focused on it several times, even tried to discuss it with Richard Holbrooke. I don’t read Glenzilla all that regularly anymore, but that sounds like something he’d be all over, too. I doubt Rahm and Bobo have ever discussed it at a Springsteen concert.

  26. 26
    Cris says:

    @fasteddie9318: Unfortunately, it’s not even that clear-cut. Consider that the neoconservative originally grew out of the political left. Lots of people who want to make the world a better place for as many people as possible (something I consider a liberal value) believe they can do so by force.

  27. 27
    Seebach says:

    @gex:

    Better yet, the reason for all of that was because Iran had wanted 50% of the profits from their oil fields, but BP would have none of it. So Iran tried to nationalize their oil.

    Good to know that BP has been behind every disaster, ever. Any Brits here who can lobby for the corporate death penalty? I want BP to stop existing, and all shareholder wealth to be evaporated.

  28. 28
    LGRooney says:

    The problem is that if we pull out first our collective dick will look smaller by comparison and then no one will respect us when we wave our sword around because they’ll all be thinking, “Okay, terrorists, let’s see yours!”

  29. 29
    Joe Beese says:

    Mr. Cole’s outrage would be more impressive if we didn’t know that he’ll vote for the murdering son of a bitch again. Because, you know, Republicans are warmongers.

  30. 30
    Karmakin says:

    What Cleek said.

    The horrific truth is that not bombing is simply not politically viable. Peace, is not politically viable.

    I agree with that, in the long run, you need to be EXTREMELY careful with this sort of thing, if you need to do it, it needs to be in very rare occasions and it needs to be publicly justified. Because in the end, all you’re doing is upping the support for terrorist activity.

    But bitching at politicians is not the answer. We live in a democracy, where the public more or less gets what they want. (We just don’t like to admit that sometimes) And yes, that includes bombing the shit out of other countries. Want to bitch at someone? Encourage the people around you to encourage the people around them to take up pacifism as a response to terrorist threats.

  31. 31
    Joe Beese says:

    @Martin:

    Ah, yes… the old “The President has secret knowledge of events so we should trust he’s doing the right thing”.

    Very popular among Republicans during the rule of Bush the Second.

  32. 32
    Juicebagger says:

    Hey, it worked in Vietnam, amirite?

  33. 33
    Chyron HR says:

    @Joe Beese:

    Mr. Cole’s outrage would be more impressive if we didn’t know that he’ll vote for the murdering son of a bitch again.

    Wouldn’t he be voting for whichever bright boy you guys recruit to primary Obama?

  34. 34
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Martin:

    A family friend has relayed that he believes that we have intel on OBL and are now chasing him across Pakistan.

    Yeah, but every time that son of a bitch stops to eat the bird seed we lay out for him, just as we shove the boulder off the cliff to squash him he says “meep meep” and jets off again, while our agent tumbles off the cliff and into the chasm below.

  35. 35
    Paul M says:

    @Cris: That may be, as I don’t get out much. Still, it amuses me under the cirx.

  36. 36
    Ed Marshall says:

    @Joe Beese:

    I heard that before Obama took office and it has something to do with the CTTL “Continuous Clandestine Tagging, Tracking, and Locating” program. I think if it was going to work, two years is a hell of a trial program, but it’s not bullshit.

    On Edit: Oh shit, I forgot who you were. Don’t worry about it and get back to emoting to make a better world.

  37. 37
    The Raven says:

    If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and Al Qaeda before, after you bomb the shit out of them, they will be. As far as I am concerned, the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office, yet, oddly enough, few seem to give a shit.

    It’s a continuation of the Bush policies, which Obama signaled by keeping on Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense.

    Mention “the professional left” at a fundraiser, and there is a six week freak-out. Bomb and kill a shitload of innocents, creating tons more terrorists and doing nothing to advance our War aims (whatever the fuck they are anymore), and a few people will sheepishly mumble about you not understanding the gravity of the situation.

    There’s a central disconnect here. It has been part of US policy for a very long time, and only the DFHs seem to care.

    Oh, well. More food for corvids!

  38. 38
    Cris says:

    @Joe Beese: Mr. Cole’s outrage would be more impressive if we didn’t know that he’ll vote for the murdering son of a bitch again.

    What the fuck is the alternative? Cynthia McKinney? Listen: nobody from any party is going to become President if they are not a good steward of Empire. The wars will continue, and we who wish otherwise have to work within the framework we have, not in the fantasy utopia we want.

  39. 39
    magisterludi says:

    The WOT has provided a great distraction to the benefit of corporations. To them, perpetuating terror is more a feature than a bug.

  40. 40
    Joe Beese says:

    @Chyron HR:

    Wouldn’t he be voting for whichever bright boy you guys recruit to primary Obama?

    Never happen. Especially if the trial balloon the WH sent up about Gibbs taking over the DNC goes well.

    But I wouldn’t put it past Hillary to run as an independent. It would certainly make for entertaining reading at the GOS.

  41. 41
    Joe Beese says:

    @Cris:

    What the fuck is the alternative?

    If there’s no alternative, it would seem that Mr. Cole is wasting his time and ours by bitching about it.

  42. 42
    scarshapedstar says:

    But we painted their schools!

    [/Glenn Reynolds circa 2003]

  43. 43
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Joe Beese:

    But I wouldn’t put it past Hillary to run as an independent.

    Thankfully, Hillary Clinton isn’t nearly as big an idiot as the people who keep thinking she’s going to run for president in 2012. Oh, and, ah, she’d be bombing the shit out of people if she were in the job too. Come to think of it, she’s the chief international representative of the murdering son of a bitch doing the bombing, so what does that make her?

  44. 44
    Martin says:

    @Joe Beese: Well, there are matters of degree here. Would we expect any president to reveal intel about someone like OBL? No. And it’s pretty clear that we have Germany involved in the effort in Pakistan, at least at an intelligence level.

    Iraq was different because we had the UN doing the same intel work as the US and coming to completely contradictory conclusions. That’s a reasonable point to question ‘what should I trust here?’, particularly given the magnitude of the action based on that intelligence.

    Look, you HAVE to trust someone in here. To not is to turn into the Unabomber or the survivalist nuts. So make reasonable efforts and judgement to determine where you will place that trust. What I see in Afghanistan/Pakistan is a renewed effort to bring to a close the initial, and reasonable initiation of the ‘war on terror’. It was specifically targeted toward Al Qaeda and the Taliban, in a specific theater, which has expanded somewhat and now includes Yemen to a limited degree, but hasn’t gotten wildly out of hand. That’s the mission we’re on here, and it’s a valid one. It may not be a wise one, or even a winning one, but it’s a reasonably justifiable one. The crime here is that it wasn’t wrapped up in 2003 when it should have been, not that it was initiated in the first place.

  45. 45
    2liberal says:

    “rocket surgery”

    Is that a Palinism for “rocket science or brain surgery” ??

  46. 46
    Dennis SGMM says:

    When you bomb people and kill their family, friends, and neighbors, burn down their homes and burn down their businesses and kill their livestock, spewing unexploded ordnance and munitions in fields where they work and their children play, it pisses them off.

    Let’s not be hasty here. We’ve only been at it for ten years. Let’s give this strategy time to work.

  47. 47
    Cris says:

    @Joe Beese: If there’s no alternative, it would seem that Mr. Cole is wasting his time and ours by bitching about it.

    No, you’re just unable to think beyond the ballot box. You don’t just cast one vote every four years and expect to get your way. Look at what the teabaggers are doing: if they don’t like what their party is doing, they make a whole lot of goddamned noise until that party starts to listen to them. You might even call it “bitching.”

  48. 48

    I am against predator drone strikes into occupied buildings. It is amoral, at best, even if legal and Obama should stop it. If you find an AQ person out in the open and make a positive ID, then use of air power is one thing, but dropping a bomb on an occupied home just because through third party, or a second party thinks a bad guy might be in the building, is both morally wrong, and whatever you might gain from killing an enemy, is lost by creating more, when you also kill women and children in the process. Cole is right on this one, imo.

  49. 49
    Tractarian says:

    When you bomb people and kill their family, friends, and neighbors, burn down their homes and burn down their businesses and kill their livestock, spewing unexploded ordnance and munitions in fields where they work and their children play, it pisses them off. Many of them even get pissed off enough to fight back against the people they think are responsible for the bombing. They probably even form lifelong grudges when they find their mother and children in thousands of bloody pieces in their former homes

    Do you think “fighting back” and holding “lifelong grudges” are appropriate, natural, human responses to having your friends and relatives blown apart?

    Now, what if the grudge-holder wasn’t a poor Waziristani peasant, but rather a 9/11 widow from Jersey City? Because you pretty much just described 9/11 there (livestock aside).

  50. 50
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office

    I agree and say so all the time. Obama’s merely continuing the bipartisan consensus on the Empire, which is to rule these far-flung places through terror from the sky, minimizing American casualties. That was the policy of every President post-Vietnam until W changed it. Having skipped Vietnam he evidently also failed to learn it’s most important lesson, that the general population has little stomach for sacrificing legions of its young people in causes that have nothing to do with self-defense.

    The part you bolded is all true and obvious, and the people in government are all well aware of it. The only logical conclusion is that they don’t care. They will continue to feel compelled to service the Empire, but the pragmatic ones like Obama will keep it at a more “cold war” level of hosility.

    It’s up to you and me to complain about this, because nobody in the mainstream pundit class is going to do it in a meaningful way.

  51. 51
    Earl Butz says:

    Mr. Cole’s outrage would be more impressive if we didn’t know that he’ll vote for the murdering son of a bitch again. Because, you know, Republicans are warmongers.

    @Joe Beese: Bring me a primary challenger. Any electable candidate that will end this war on their inauguration day will do – and I’ll vote for them in a heartbeat.

    Otherwise, I’m stuck with the less of two evils. As you note, Republicans are warmongers. And as you didn’t note, they’re also lunatics who are in the pockets of the rich and, apparently, the pro-puppy abuse lobby.

  52. 52
    mahboud says:

    @homerhk:
    Close. Mossadegh was not assassinated.

  53. 53
    El Cid says:

    What are you talking about?

    The US’ carpet bombing of Cambodia, killing maybe a half-million people directly, and destroying rural agriculture leading directly to mass starvation and death, didn’t in any way make the population support any sort of rotten loony government.

    The Khmer Rouge of course went from a minor lunatic violent fringe to taking the government by sheer magical transition, and couldn’t possibly have had anything to do with all those bombs which the CIA had been warning the government that we were pushing peasants into the hands of the Khmer Rouge.

    Anyone who thinks such things is unmanly, insufficiently committed to the defense of the USA and to killing the terrorists, and anti-American in general.

  54. 54

    When you bomb people and kill their family, friends, and neighbors, burn down their homes and burn down their businesses and kill their livestock, spewing unexploded ordnance and munitions in fields where they work and their children play, it pisses them off. Many of them even get pissed off enough to fight back against the people they think are responsible for the bombing. They probably even form lifelong grudges when they find their mother and children in thousands of bloody pieces in their former homes.

    I get the sense that the desired position of “Conservatives” and our government would be to go back to full on carpet bombing (Dresden style) throughout the Middle East. If they thought they could get away with it.

    The theory being that if we just slaughter enough of them, they’ll give up or they’ll go extinct and then it’s problem solved.

    Unfortunately for them, the whole ‘genocide’ thing has really gotten a bad rap.

  55. 55
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    I get the sense that the desired position of “Conservatives” and our government would be to go back to full on carpet bombing (Dresden style) throughout the Middle East. If they thought they could get away with it.

    It’s just a matter of moving the Overton Window. They’ll get there eventually.

  56. 56
    Cris says:

    @Tractarian: Do you think “fighting back” and holding “lifelong grudges” are appropriate, natural, human responses to having your friends and relatives blown apart?

    There’s an enormous difference between understanding a behavior and condoning it; between saying a behavior is predictable and saying it is acceptable.

    Your argument is the same one that was trotted out endlessly against those of us who said the 9/11 attacks could be understood as a consequence of American foreign policy. By attempting to make sense of the situation, and address its possible causes, we were accused of sympathizing with terrorists. It’s a toxic collapse of the discourse and it only serves the war machine.

  57. 57

    @Joshua:

    Imagine if the Taliban had invaded South Carolina or some other part of real Murica. Who would be labeled who?

    The Taliban invades South Carolina? Is “Kill them all. God/Allah will know his own” the correct answer?

  58. 58
    El Cid says:

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.): Well, George Bush Sr. did declare at the end of Gulf War 1

    “The specter of Vietnam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula,” President George H. W. Bush said of the Gulf War victory in early 1991. He told a gathering of state legislators, “It’s a proud day for America — and, by God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all.”

    And the SURGE which fixed everything in Iraq taught us that even if such invasions get messy, we now know how to fix everything.

  59. 59

    Well, if not having nukes means your population will be subjected to bombing missions for decades, who the hell wouldn’t want nukes?

    I think you just won the “what does Iran really think about their nuclear program?” contest.

  60. 60
    ChrisNYC says:

    Could Greenwald for once not indulge in black hat and white hat nonsense? The Pakistani government lobbied hard to become the bff of the US (and to get that nice aid that comes with it) and simultaneously smooches the Taliban. India saw the results of that partnership with the Mumbai attacks, which happened about 2 weeks after Obama was elected. I guess those attacks were the result of all those nonexistent drone strikes by India — since Greenwald seems to know just what atrocity is “in retaliation” for what other atrocity. No matter — damn Indians had it coming.

    The disaster that is Pakistan is not solely the result of the U.S. The Pakistani leadership and elites (check out their land ownership figures) have just a bit to do with it as well. And the government there regularly feeds the populace conspiracy theories about conquest by India and the US because, well, what country wouldn’t want to invade Pakistan?

  61. 61
    goblue72 says:

    The insurgent’s problem is that they don’t wear tri-corner hats and knee breaches. If they wore uniforms that made them look like extras in a Colonial Williamsburg re-enactment and shouted “Don’t tread on me!”, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The Taliban really need to hire themselves a wardrobe designer.

    Don’t they know – the “crazy bearded Muslim living in a cave” look is out, and the “crazy teabagging George Washingtons” look is in?

  62. 62
    MNPundit says:

    Many of them even get pissed off enough to fight back against the people they think are responsible for the bombing.

    You forgot one thing: especially if no legitimate avenues for challenging these actions presents itself. Nothing breeds violent rage like helplessness in the face of impersonal forces.

    Also the professional left has been at this for years and has continued to be at this. How many Obama apologists have?

  63. 63
    Cat says:

    @Martin:

    The new strategy is to keep drones overhead nearly 24/7, hit as soon as they get a bite, and not give them time to move far.

    Which is better then the old strategy how?

    By the time the analysis is done to give the bomb order the target has moved and you hit innocent people.

    Now you go to soon and hit innocent people because the target was never actually there.

    Its obvious both strategies rely on the same under lying principal that continues to allow these strategies to “succeed”. That non-American life has little value to American’s.

  64. 64
    Cat says:

    @ChrisNYC:

    The Pakistani government lobbied hard to become the bff of the US (and to get that nice aid that comes with it) and simultaneously smooches the Taliban.

    I know right! Because a large and diverse group of people can never be made up of different groups with different agendas!

    All those corrupt double crossing Pakistani government officials out to steal our hamburgers!

  65. 65
    Teak111 says:

    If you don’t want to get bombed by a drone, get the F outta the way. If you can’t move, make the Taliban and Al Qaeda move. Better yet kill OBL yourself. Your kind awakened the 800 lbs gorilla with a sharp poke in the eye. Now you have to pay the piper. Its a dirty war, but what other choice do we have?

  66. 66
    El Cid says:

    I’ll be damned. I just found scholar and director of the Cambodian Genocide Project Ben Kiernan recently (end of June) noting the important lessons that the bombing of civilians in Cambodia can tell us about US policy developments in Afghanistan.

    From an article in Japan Focus:

    Aerial bombardment, a centrepiece of the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan, has had a devastating impact on civilians there. Along with Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgents and suicide bombers, who have recently escalated their slaughter of the Afghan population, U.S. and NATO aircraft have for years inflicted a horrific toll on innocent villagers…
    __
    …U.S. policy in Afghanistan has shown a similar reliance on air strikes in fighting the motley insurgency there. These strikes, while far more precisely targeted than the earlier bombing campaigns in Indochina, inflicted substantial civilian casualties in the first year of the Afghan war in 2001-02. The Project on Defense Alternatives estimated that in a 3-month period between October 7, 2001 and January 1, 2002, between 1,000 and 1,300 civilians were killed by aerial bombing,7 and The Los Angeles Times found that in a 5-month period from October 7, 2001 to February 28, 2002, between 1,067 and 1,201 civilian deaths were reported in the media.8
    __
    Deaths reported in newspapers should be treated with caution, but not all are reported, and the total was undoubtedly high. And the toll has continued long after the initial U.S. invasion.9 According to Human Rights Watch, airstrikes by the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and its NATO-led coalition, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), killed 116 Afghan civilians in 2006, and 321 civilians in 2007.10 And the number rose again in 2008: according to a UN study on the humanitarian costs of the conflict, airstrikes accounted for 530 of the 828 civilians killed that year by U.S. or Afghan government forces. The same study found that between January and June 2009, 200 of the 310 recorded civilian deaths were caused by airstrikes.11 Overall in 2009, the UN reported that 2,400 civilians were killed in Afghanistan, though the number killed by foreign and Afghan troops was down 25%.12…
    __
    …The January 13, 2006 aerial strike by a US predator drone on a village in Pakistan, killing women and children and inflaming local anti-US political passions, seems a pertinent example of what continues to occur in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Collateral damage,” in this case, even undermined the positive sentiments previously created by billions of dollars of U.S. post-earthquake aid to that part of Pakistan. Aside from the killing of innocent civilians, how many new enemies does U.S. bombing create?
    __
    In the lead-up to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, neither the U.S. media nor the Bush administration seriously included the impact of civilian casualties in public discussion of the overall war strategy. Even with official assurances that civilian casualties will be limited, when it comes to a decision to bomb a village containing a suspected terrorist, the benefit of killing the target trumps the toll on innocents. This misguided calculus is quite possibly a fundamental threat to longterm Afghan and American security.
    __
    If the Cambodians’ tragic experience teaches us anything, it is that official disregard of the immorality and miscalculation of the consequences of inflicting predictable civilian casualties stem partly from failure to understand the social contexts of insurgencies.
    __
    The reasons local people help such movements do not fit into Kissingerian rationales. Nor is their support absolute or unidimensional. Those whose lives have been ruined may not look to the geopolitical rationale of the attacks; rather, understandably and often explicitly, many will blame the attackers.

  67. 67
    catclub says:

    @fasteddie9318:
    “It’s just a matter of moving the Overton Window. They’ll get there eventually. ”
    Who this ‘they’ Kemo Sabe?

  68. 68

    […] Cole has the most succinct summary of how U.S. policies create anti-American terrorism that I’ve seen yet: When you bomb people […]

  69. 69
    Cat says:

    @Teak111:

    haha nice one. I give it a 8/10 as it totally sounds believable. You lose one point for no obvious misspellings and another one point for your pseudonym not being sufficiently republican.

  70. 70
    Rick Taylor says:

    I don’t know much, but I do remember that General McChrystal argued against predator drone strikes for this very reason.

  71. 71
    Corner Stone says:

    If we don’t bomb them, how will they know we care?

  72. 72
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    @El Cid:

    Yeah, Bush Sr.’s “Mission Accomplished” moment. As opposed to his rhetoric, his real world actions were to limit the ground commitment by leaving Hussein in power.

  73. 73
    Corner Stone says:

    @Seebach:

    Obama getting bin Laden’s head when Bush didn’t would be a useful bauble and STFU button when debating Republicans.
    __
    I can see why he’d want it, damn the long term consequences. Because even though we’re breeding new terrorists, having Sarah Palin in the white house is still scarier.

    Ask your nearest, most “relatively” sane wingnut this question:
    If OBL was giving a hate speech to recruits and a SEAL pops up outta nowhere and drills OBL right between the eyes d.e.a.d. and we recover his body and prove to the world he’s gone for good, how long would you consider voting for Obama?
    Never, that’s the honest answer. Not even a nanosecond.

  74. 74
    El Cid says:

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.): The trial run was Panama, the briefest test Grenada.

  75. 75
    tomvox1 says:

    They’re poor and they’ll never go to Davos, therefore, like the Iraqis, the Palestinians (or the Vietnamese or, hell, the Native Americans in their day), you can kill bucketloads of them before there is a peep from legislators or the MSM. All men, it turns out, are not really created equal at all.

  76. 76
    Corner Stone says:

    @Martin:

    I think the likelihood that Al Qaeda will find another multi-millionaire leader with family ties all across the middle east is pretty remote. He’s a fairly unique animal.

    What OBL has proven, IMO, is that he is irrelevant to the success or failure of the distributed network.
    They don’t need a multi-millionaire or motivated single point actor.
    I’ve heard figures thrown around that 9/11 cost something like $200,000. Even if that’s off by a McMegatude, that’s the kind of money they could raise in one mosque in London.

  77. 77
    anna missed says:

    cleek@4

    sort of makes me feel like this.

    pissing (in the wind) while painting (a statement)

    about

    those who piss on history

    to fabricate the present

  78. 78
    Hogan says:

    Reminds me of a Pogo comic strip where Churchy asks the rabbit who works for the circus how they catch animals:

    “Well, usually we dig a hole and cover it with leaves and branches and when the animal falls in, we beat him with sticks, throw him in a cage and feed him slops. Is this a wild animal you’re trying to catch?”

    ” . . . He’s sure gonna be wild when *you* get through with him.”

  79. 79
    tomjones says:

    This is all well and good, but what is the alternative?

    To observe terrorists scampering about in Pakistan, and give them a smile and a wink?

    If we aren’t killing them, what are we doing about them?

  80. 80

    […] Cole has the most succinct summary of how U.S. policies create anti-American terrorism that I’ve seen yet: When you bomb people […]

  81. 81
    joe from Lowell says:

    @Joe Beese:

    Ah, yes… the old “The President has secret knowledge of events so we should trust he’s doing the right thing”.

    When, obviously, General Greenwald can be counted on to have the level of knowledge necessary to make an informed decision.

    I don’t trust people who don’t need to know what’s going on in order to have an opinion about whether military action is a good idea. I don’t trust the ones who say “Always bomb,” and I don’t trust the ones who say “Never bomb.” They’re just striking a pose.

  82. 82
    BTD says:

    As far as I am concerned, the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office, yet, oddly enough, few seem to give a shit. Mention “the professional left” at a fundraiser, and there is a six week freak-out. Bomb and kill a shitload of innocents, creating tons more terrorists and doing nothing to advance our War aims (whatever the fuck they are anymore), and a few people will sheepishly mumble about you not understanding the gravity of the situation.

    What are you talking about? Isn’t Greenwald freaking out about both? What does the “professional Left” have to do with your opinion on the war in Af/Pak?

  83. 83
    El Cid says:

    @tomjones: This is a question which should really be examined.

    Certainly the argument for ongoing drone attacks is to kill particular known (alleged) terrorists so that risk of terrorist attacks on the US are reduced. Risks which are direct or indirect (say, via destabilizing Pakistan).

    Do they? Do these attacks typically involving ‘collateral’ civilian deaths and the increasing destabilization of the Pakistani government by the attacks (at least from the point of view of many analysts of Pakistan) reduce the threat of attacks on the US or its allies?

    It’s not too difficult to imagine that this one could really have been connected with imminent danger. Not that others couldn’t be.

    There is certainly cause to question the assumption that at least some types of attacks benefit the current or future security of the United States. Of course, it’s very difficult to discuss such things rationally as often such points will be dismissed as being insufficiently tough on the terrorists.

    This surely cannot be about bringing justice upon particular terrorists or leaders. It matters what the likely outcomes are for the interests of the actual US and local civilians (they matter just as much), and not some sort of foreign policy establishment views.

    Not that there are only 2 points of view, but the suggestion that US military action is / may be leading to increasing destabilization or contributing to insurgencies which may represent a greater risk to the US than some particular group of (assumed) terrorists is a real one, and could have huge effects upon the real world.

  84. 84
    joe from Lowell says:

    The U.S. war in (against) Pakistan

    Lie.

    I didn’t even get to a period. God, Greenwald is such a hack.

  85. 85
    BTD says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    What about Cole? He a hack too?

    This is the bullshit that makes a mockery of these discussions.

    Greenwald disagrees with you (and me) on this issue. So does Cole.

    Nobody is a hack. People disagree.

  86. 86

    […] Cole has the most succinct summary of how U.S. policies create anti-American terrorism that I’ve seen yet: When you bomb people […]

  87. 87
    joe from Lowell says:

    @El Cid:

    Of course, it’s very difficult to discuss such things rationally as often such points will be dismissed as being insufficiently tough on the terrorists.

    Take at look at this thread. Take a look at Greenwald’s piece. Take a look at, well, any Greenwald piece on this issue.

    I submit that there is another reason why it is difficult to discuss these things rationally.
    @BTD:

    What about Cole? He a hack too?

    I’ve never seen Cole make a dishonest statement, or engage in cutesy little word games to define his conclusion as inevitable and dissent from his conclusion as unthinkable by decent people.

    So, no, I don’t think Cole is a hack; I just disagree with him. It is certainly possible to disagree with me and be operating in good faith, and I can name a half-dozen people off the top of my head who I would describe that way. Glenn Greenwald is not among them. He’s a hack.

  88. 88
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @catclub:

    Who this ‘they’

    The people who want to carpet bomb the entire Middle East 24 hours a day. They’re working up to the point where it becomes acceptable to enough Americans that they can do it without electoral repercussion.

  89. 89
    tomjones says:

    @El Cid: Thank you for the substantive response.

    Greenwald, god love him, is too knee jerk and doctrinaire for my taste. He does not do his cause justice by becoming so easy to ignore, IMHO.

    You on the other hand have definitely given me food for thought. We all agree these are thorny issues, I think. People with easy answers are probably wrong.

  90. 90
    BTD says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    It’s called a polemic. Sort of like the one Cole uses (ineffectively imo) in this very post:

    As far as I am concerned, the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office, yet, oddly enough, few seem to give a shit. Mention “the professional left” at a fundraiser, and there is a six week freak-out. Bomb and kill a shitload of innocents, creating tons more terrorists and doing nothing to advance our War aims (whatever the fuck they are anymore), and a few people will sheepishly mumble about you not understanding the gravity of the situation.

    You write “I’ve never seen Cole engage in cutesy little word games to define his conclusion as inevitable[.]”

    Well, I think he does in this very post. But that does not make him a hack.

    You’re revealing a double standard imo.

  91. 91
    joe from Lowell says:

    It’s called a polemic.

    Cole writes polemics as polemics. No problem – we all need to vent.

    Greenwald writes polemics, but dresses them up as logical discussions of policies and principles.

  92. 92
    The Raven says:

    Add to the “Very Complicated Logic” at work the popular pro-austerity economics. There’s a huge amount of history that says that enforcing austerity during a depression makes the depression worse. Since Keynes, there has been theory to explain the history and guide policy. And yet, here the world’s leaders are, making the problem of the depression worse.

    People who cite Osama bin Ladin in connection with the original topic are missing the point: the US government don’t get to murder Afgani civilians to capture Osama bin Ladin and more than, say, Iraqis would get to murder US civilians to capture W. Bush. Reasoning that makes this policy plausible is simple madness. It seems you hominids have gone mad.

  93. 93
    El Cid says:

    @joe from Lowell: I actually think most of the Greenwald post makes sense. Intense bombing of many areas of the Muslim world are feeding insurgencies and making it more dangerous for us. Pakistanis are discussing talk of coups, and while the US is very openly disagreeing with such approaches — such as Pervaiz Musharraf advocating a direct and Constitutional role of the army in governance — I also doubt that it would not wish to have influence in such a movement if it were to gather steam. I think it’s hasty to suggest that it’s easy to determine that a particular terrorist plot was in retaliation for US military attacks, nor do I think it’s something to be dismissed.

    You might add a phrase like a certain attack was justified by the attackers as a retaliation, but it’s not like this is some shocking new argument in the world of insurgencies, occupations, conflicts, and terrorism. The justifications of course aren’t legitimate to actually justify terrorist attacks, particularly against non-military targets.

    So you think GG’s points are ridiculous, a hack. Fine. I don’t see much so objectionable about the argument, though there’s more attributing ill motives to the US than most would prefer. People writing about predictable blowback often make sure to see it as a failure in logic or understanding.

    I’m not trying to persuade you of anything. I wouldn’t try.

    But outside maybe Maddow and the evening MSNBC squad I think the notion that the types of rhetoric of a GG has some impact on significant public policy discussions of the US war in Afghanistan (and, yes, extending to Pakistan) is completely unconvincing. It just isn’t.

    I don’t pay too much attention to the themes of comments in B-J discussions, because there often appear to me to be absurd faddish ‘lines’ among which good people are supposed to adhere, because I just don’t give a shit, and I don’t take the comments in this blog more seriously than it interests me to do so.

  94. 94
    David Brooks (not that one) says:

    Sorry, when I was reading your bolded paragraphs I thought you were talking about the Palestinians. My bad.

  95. 95
    JWL says:

    You want outrage from people? Begin reporting the numbers of cats and dogs killed by our drone strikes.

    At the height of Nixon’s mad hatter bombing assault against North Vietnam, a Doonsebury cartoon portrayed Boopsie reading statistics from a newspaper to BD, her war supporting boyfriend. Her demeanor was controlled until she reached a reference to the number of baby ducks killed during strikes on waterways, at which point she shrieked, “Did you hear me! Baby ducks”!!

    I’m kidding, but think about the statistics and stories of physically abused children throughout the country. They’re appalling, but newspapers and other media only very rarely report them. On the other hand, stories about cruelty to animals are perennial because they tear people’s hearts out. Just this week, the San Francisco Chronicle has devoted front page daily coverage to an arthritic labrador retriever that Oakland cops shot and killed. I doubt that half the people howling about it even know what a drone aircraft is.

  96. 96
    The Main Gauche of Mild Reason says:

    Ever read Halberstam’s “The Best and Brightest”? If anything, the thing that worries me is that technocratic administrations are often WORSE on warfare than less technocratic ones–they want to believe if they deploy the optimal strategy, listen to the right authorities–that victory is possible.

    That being said, I have a funny feeling that most of Obama’s engagement with these policies is to prevent the military from outright revolting. I think the Vietnam war loss is still something the military is trying to make up for.

  97. 97
    Calming Influence says:

    The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  98. 98
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    We employ Afghani and Pakistani Pashtuns by the thousands to operate our counterterror cells in FATA and Waziristan. They’re the heart of our intelligence operation. That’s in addition to the CIA, contractors, NATO allies, Jordanians, who knows who else, also on the ground.

    This is a massive operation. If this doesn’t count as “war” in Pakistan, I would say you have a strikingly narrow view of what war is…

  99. 99
    joe from Lowell says:

    @The Raven:

    People who cite Osama bin Ladin in connection with the original topic are missing the point: the US government don’t get to murder Afgani civilians to capture Osama bin Ladin and more than, say, Iraqis would get to murder US civilians to capture W. Bush.

    Something like 10,000 French civilians were killed by allied aerial bombing and artillery during the battle of Normandy. None of them were murdered. They were civilians caught in a war zone.

    If anyone were to murder Afghan civilians – deliberately target them – that would be a war crime, and they would be charged with murder. For instance, like the members of Scott Beauchamp’s company, or the sociopaths recently arrested for shooting at Afghans.

  100. 100
    joe from Lowell says:

    @El Cid:

    There is no Intense bombing of many areas of the Muslim world going on. There is one area – a portion of Pakistan – in which strikes targeting specific individuals are being carried out.

    Pakistanis are discussing talk of coups

    Must…resist….urge to snark.

    Ahem. That is not unheard of.

    I don’t dispute the proposition that the potential for blowback needs to be considered, and should act as a brake against even some operations that are legitimate and have the potential to produce valuable goals. There is a need to balance competing concerns.

    What I object to is a discussion that leaves either side of that balance out. I don’t see the slightest concern for or even acknowledgment of the value of hitting al Qaeda from Greenwald, any more than I saw concern for of acknowledgment of the risk of blowback from Victor David Hanson’s little screeds circa 2002.

    When you leave out the parts that make a question complicated, yes, you are left with “very simple logic.” It isn’t terribly helpful, though, in trying to answer questions from the real world. It’s only helpful to the effort to pat yourself on the back for being smarter than those fools who don’t realize that al Qaeda/civilian casualties are “bad, mmm-kay?”

  101. 101
    joe from Lowell says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    The part of that sentence I object to was the parenthetical “(against).”

    Of course we’re waging a war in Pakistan. We’ve been talking about the Af-Pak War for a year and a half. We are not, however, waging a war against Pakistan, but against al Qaeda and the Taliban.

    We are not waging a war against Pakistan. That is a deliberate lie from Greenwald, intended to do nothing but obfuscate and crank up the emotional level.

  102. 102
    El Cid says:

    @joe from Lowell: I don’t so much care if you believe there are widespread intensive bombing. After all, it’s all a relative scale, right?

    From the points of view of the civilians and many nationals affected, it certainly is. After all, if only a few hundreds are blown up and strikes continue on a fairly regular basis, who are they to say?

    I don’t give the slightest shit whether or not somebody compare it to the civilian losses in WWII bombing or not. Big deal. If the rhetorical difference is hugely important to you, keep at it. There are all sorts of lessons to be learned from situations which in most ways are drastically different. Hence a scholar of the Cambodian carpet bombing and genocide sees lessons to be learned for US military action in Afghanistan. But maybe that’s impossible to do, since Afghanistan 2010 isn’t Cambodia 1973, so, close the book.

    Go ahead, snark if it thrills you. You know I don’t give a damn.

    I don’t see any particular requirement that in current discussions of this ongoing war anyone should have to mention the value of attack on Al Qa’ida encampments immediately following the 2001 attacks. It isn’t relevant. If it’s a big issue for you for that to be mentioned, well, then, always mention it.

    And besides, I have actually listened to reasonable arguments that the US actions in Afghanistan immediately following 2001 weren’t the best way to handle things, or weren’t done in the most sensible ways, etc., and I certainly didn’t collapse with a sad face and think that maybe the arguer hated the 9/11 victims and wanted us to be attacked again.

    I don’t recall GG objecting to the attacks on Al Qa’ida (the actual Al Qa’ida) or dismissing it, maybe you do. I certainly don’t think opinions on that have much at all to do with the likely effects of what has been going on for most of the time since then.

  103. 103
    joe from Lowell says:

    I don’t so much care if you believe there are widespread intensive bombing. After all, it’s all a relative scale, right?

    I think that actual “widespread bombing” is going to produce a great deal more blowback that not-so-widespread bombing. I hardly consider that a controversial statement. Once again, this is a question that requires weighing competing concerns, so the weight of each side is, in fact, a meaningful consideration.

    I don’t give the slightest shit whether or not somebody compare it to the civilian losses in WWII bombing or not.

    Oh. Kay.

    There are all sorts of lessons to be learned from situations which in most ways are drastically different.

    You might want to go back and reread my point, and the point that it was written in response to, because it was not about “learning lessons” from situations. It was about a question of morality – whether the accidental killing of civilians in wartime is murder.

    Go ahead, snark if it thrills you. You know I don’t give a damn.

    I guess my point wasn’t clear enough, so I’ll try again. The existence of talk of coups in Pakistan is not, actually, much of an indicator of anything. Pakistan has had innumerable coups throughout its history, and even more talk.

    I don’t see any particular requirement that in current discussions of this ongoing war anyone should have to mention the value of attack on Al Qa’ida encampments immediately following the 2001 attacks.

    I haven’t the foggiest idea why you included the italicized phrase in your point, or why you think it’s relevant to mine. I’m talking about the value of strikes against al Qaeda leadership and operations now, today.

    And besides, I have actually listened to reasonable arguments that the US actions in Afghanistan immediately following 2001 weren’t the best way to handle things, or weren’t done in the most sensible ways, etc., and I certainly didn’t collapse with a sad face and think that maybe the arguer hated the 9/11 victims and wanted us to be attacked again.

    Nice straw man. I haven’t the foggiest idea why you think it has even the slightest connection to anything I’ve written. I think you’re just pulling some musty old talking points from another time, about another argument, out of the closet and using them without regard to context.

    I don’t recall GG objecting to the attacks on Al Qa’ida (the actual Al Qa’ida) or dismissing it, maybe you do.

    Again, I must not have been clear enough, since you seem to misunderstand my point. I’ve read the entire Greenwald piece about the effects of these strikes, and there is not a single word about the value of doing damage to al Qaeda and eroding its ability to operate. I find such willful blindness to a rather central consideration to be unhelpful to the effort to judge these strikes’ consequences and value.

    I certainly don’t think opinions on that have much at all to do with the likely effects of what has been going on for most of the time since then.

    I think “what’s been going on since then” is a rather broad category, and that consideration of the value of striking high-value al Qaeda targets really has very little to do with, say, the decision to invade Iraq, or to nation-build in Afghanistan, or to back the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. It’s entirely possible to be against all of those things, and still recognize the value of making war against al Qaeda itself.

  104. 104
    Shelton Lankford says:

    @Martin: Chasing the deceased OBL across Pakistan! How exciting! Maybe they could make a sequel to Weekend at Bernie’s out of it.

  105. 105
    Shelton Lankford says:

    @Martin: Chasing the deceased OBL across Pakistan! How exciting! Maybe they could make a sequel to Weekend at Bernie’s out of it.

  106. 106
    groover says:

    @Silver: You are a moron.

  107. 107
    El Cid says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    You might want to go back and reread my point, and the point that it was written in response to, because it was not about “learning lessons” from situations. It was about a question of morality – whether the accidental killing of civilians in wartime is murder.

    I didn’t misunderstand. That a legalistic definition of murder, say, 1st degree, or war crime would not describe such killings of civilians has not convinced people throughout history that it is not murder. I’ve known people who stress the frequent necessity of civilian deaths in wars and who call it murder, whether conscientiously desired or not.

    In fact, there are plenty of accounts of military veterans starting off seeing them as necessary actions which killed civilians as a consequence and later speaking of the consequences as “murder”. They probably aren’t anticipating being charged with murder or war crimes for it, but they can certainly view it as such.

    I also think that it is an empirical debate whether or not there continue to be valuable actual Al Qa’ida targets in Afghanistan / Waziristan / Pakistan to the degree to which attacks which frequently kill (or “murder”, as certainly many would say) civilians and destabilize the region outweigh the negative consequences. I emphasized immediately following 2001 because what existed after those military actions were quite a pale shadow of that which existed before. No matter what we do, what we ever do, Al Qa’ida leadership can continue to operate in Afghanistan / Waziristan / Pakistan. “High value” is an argument which has to be made, not assumed.

    Simply because coups in Pakistan have been frequent and nearly seasonal is no reason to ignore the possibility right now. Sometimes coups can seem (to us at least) like comparatively minor shuffling of typical ruling forces, and sometimes they can go haywire with all sorts of awful consequences.

    It wasn’t a “straw man” which prompted me to mention the willingness to consider reasonable debate about what the US should have done in Afghanistan after 2001, since not every point I will make will be directly about points you made. I was clarifying that such discussions are no more out of bounds than sounding like one fails to appreciate the need to continue attacks today against what are claimed to be attacks against high value AQ or Taliban targets. I stated it because to raise the question seriously in my experience been dismissed as extremist or silly to even think along those lines.

    If I had to guess, GG isn’t being willfully blind about the need to continue to attack targets in Afghanistan etc. against Al Qa’ida, rather, that he would agree with those pointing out the tiny and weak numbers of AQ who are actually there. Perhaps this analysis is wrong, but it would hinge not upon some blindness, but an actual disagreement that there are still significant international terrorism threats enabled from terrorist groups within Afghanistan, particularly of a variety likely to remain in Afghanistan and be available as military targets.

    I’ve certainly heard such arguments, and by those who think more about the subject than GG, they’re typically based on the value of human intelligence, financial monitoring, and other law enforcement type activities from areas in which major terrorist attacks are likely to be planned. It’s one thing to have a major concentrated AQ or like base, it’s another to suggest that an attack on the US or Western targets is likely to come out of AQ leadership remaining in Af/Pak than operating from within European nations.

    If the notion of ‘making war’ against Al Qa’ida refers to a military strategy focuses primarily on Af/Pak versus a description of a complete, wide-ranging strategy basically resembling a law enforcement / intelligence / judicial model with military action when needed to carry out such approaches (i.e., no regular police force would or could have captured and arrested in those AQ bases in Afg.), then that’s a very different use of the terms.

    It is thus entirely reasonable — I’m not saying proven — to conclude that many if not most of the ongoing military strikes and most of the US semi-occupation and propping up of a weak and isolated Afghan government might not be that valuable to prevent operations of AQ or related or spinoff groups.

  108. 108
    Irony Abounds says:

    the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office

    I am still waiting to hear about a truly effective alternative to drones. Fact is innocents’ death are down, the targeting is getting better. That isn’t to say innocents won’t die, but again, given how the enemy fights, what is the alternative? Even if we get out of Afghanistan it will be necessary to monitor the area and periodically use attacks to get at terrorist camps. I don’t dispute the notion that killing people creates terrorists, but I also dispute any notion that not killing anyone results in no terrorists. There is a segment of Muslims, even if small, that is fucking batshit crazy and looks to cause great harm on others, other Muslims included. Unfortunately the greatest number of them are in Pakistan, which quite frankly is a fucking batshit crazy unstable country that is completely unreliable in dealing with Muslim extremists.

    What the hell are we supposed to do? Simple question.

  109. 109
    General Stuck says:

    @Irony Abounds:

    What the hell are we supposed to do? Simple question.

    Drones have eyes. We wait till they can see who we are about to kill, out in the open when civilians aren’t around. Not to much to require, imo, considering there are replacements for every terrorist we kill, and we can’t kill them all. But I agree with your larger point that we can’t walk away and be surprised when large numbers of other civilians get blown up around the world by these folks. It is a moral tightrope to walk, and having the highest moral ground possible, is just as important in a war of sorts, than having the high ground materially. Maybe more so.

  110. 110
    Nylund says:

    I was on vacation once and ended up having a nice chat with a fellow traveler from Iran. He expressed this same sentiment saying something along the lines of:

    “I really like America and Americans. You’re really lucky. Despite whatever problems you’re government has, it is vastly superior to the assholes running our country. That being said, if the US were to ever bomb my town, I’d go blow up the closest US embassy I could find.”

    Dropping bombs on people is a really good way to make them hate you.

  111. 111
    homerhk says:

    Mahboud, my apologies – he was deposed and arrested. My bad and thanks for the correction. Point still stands largely though.

  112. 112
    grendelkhan says:

    I wonder where exactly the shine came off the new administration’s foreign policy for John. It definitely hadn’t at the time of my peanut butter glove or mask offer, but apparently now Greenwald has been making good points all along.

    As far as I am concerned, the Obama reliance on this kind of warfare is the absolute worst thing he has done since he has come into office, yet, oddly enough, few seem to give a shit.

    You didn’t seem to give quite as much of a shit last year. What changed your mind?

  113. 113
    PJ says:

    Again, I must not have been clear enough, since you seem to misunderstand my point. I’ve read the entire Greenwald piece about the effects of these strikes, and there is not a single word about the value of doing damage to al Qaeda and eroding its ability to operate. I find such willful blindness to a rather central consideration to be unhelpful to the effort to judge these strikes’ consequences and value.

    The entire point of GG’s post is that these attacks (and the War on Muslims) create *more* Al-Qaeda than what there is now. Therefore the value of doing damage is clearly commented on: it’s negative. For every one terrorist that gets taken out, five more people are embittered enough to start planning an attack.

    John Cole in his original post summarizes this pretty well.

    Why is this hard to understand?

  114. 114
    PJ says:

    What the hell are we supposed to do? Simple question.

    When you’re in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging, right?

    Basically, here the first step should be pretty obvious: stop killing foreign people in foreign lands. Yes, there will still be animosity and all that, but at least we wouldn’t be making the situation worse.

    This is so similar to Vietnam: But what are we going to do? If we stop the war, then the communists will win. The world didn’t end once US pulled out of that war, and neither would it end if the troops came home from Afghanistan.

  115. 115
    Dave says:

    Re: rocket surgery

    The expression, “it ain’t rocket surgery” was coined by Canadian hockey commentator Don “Grapes” Cherry.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Cherry

    See, finally some real information in a blog comment!

  116. 116
    Nathanael says:

    The reason I’ve stopped complaining about this is that it’s become clear that inciting the hatred of the whole world is the only thing which is going to take down the Incompetent American Empire. Perhaps once the US loses WWIII, our new Canadian overlords will give us a nice government, like the US did for Germany and Japan.

    OK, only partly snark….

  117. 117

    […] Spot will not catch the car. Of course NATO supply trucks were again struck in Pakistan and John Cole explains why, as one might expect blowback: […]

  118. 118
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @Martin:

    @Comrade Javamanphil: Uh, no. OBL got all uppity because we had bases in Saudi Arabia. We didn’t play, and we still got stuck with him. I think the likelihood that Al Qaeda will find another multi-millionaire leader with family ties all across the middle east is pretty remote.

    Thank God there’s no way a bunch of heavily armed and ruthless fanatics who believe God is on their side can find a way to raise funds in the middle of the largest drug growing area on the planet…

  119. 119
    Phoenician in a time of Romans says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    If anyone were to murder Afghan civilians – deliberately target them – that would be a war crime, and they would be charged with murder. For instance, like the members of Scott Beauchamp’s company, or the sociopaths recently arrested for shooting at Afghans.

    Do you think the people on the receiving end give a shit? If you blow up my family, I don’t care whether it passes the test of a deliberate attack or whether it is merely an unfortunate byproduct of a careful geostrategical anti-terror policy – I will want you dead.

    That’s the point – you blow up people’s families, they want you dead. It’s not that difficult to figure out.

    I’ll tell you what – we’ll put you in the middle of a bunch of Afghanis mourning their dead children and wailing about revenge, and you can explain to them how it was totally above board according to the rules of war, okay?

  120. 120

    […] John Cole puts it more bluntly: When you bomb people and kill their family, friends and neighbors, it pisses them off. They […]

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  2. […] Spot will not catch the car. Of course NATO supply trucks were again struck in Pakistan and John Cole explains why, as one might expect blowback: […]

  3. […] Cole has the most succinct summary of how U.S. policies create anti-American terrorism that I’ve seen yet: When you bomb people […]

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  5. […] Cole has the most succinct summary of how U.S. policies create anti-American terrorism that I’ve seen yet: When you bomb people […]

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